The NIH Collaboratory’s Biostatistics and Study Design Core has just published a new guidance document by Andrea Cook, PhD, of the Group Health Research Institute, on using small-sample robust variance correction for generalized estimating equations (GEE) for use in cluster-randomized trials. The document, which includes guidance on methods available in the SAS and Stata statistical analysis packages, is available directly from the NIH Collaboratory Knowledge Repository here (opens as PDF), or via the Biostatistical Guidance Documents page in the Living Textbook.
This guidance document is one in a series of research tools focused on detailed aspects of statistical design for conducting pragmatic clinical trials. Each document in this series provides a synthesis of current developments, discusses possible future directions, and, where appropriate, makes recommendations for application to pragmatic clinical research.
A new series of 12 articles published in a special issue of the journal Clinical Trials addresses ethical and regulatory challenges particular to pragmatic clinical research. Pragmatic clinical trials are designed to efficiently provide answers to important clinical questions, yet they present special challenges in conforming to the ethical and regulatory guidelines that were developed for more traditional clinical research. The special issue describes these challenges and begins to outline possible solutions that will protect the rights and welfare of research participants while allowing pragmatic clinical trials to gather much-needed evidence for informing healthcare decisions. An introductory article is followed by 11 articles addressing individual topics, such as alteration of informed consent, privacy, gatekeepers, and defining minimal risk research. The effort was funded by the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory, with additional support from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and involved diverse groups of stakeholders, including researchers, patient advocates, bioethicists, and regulatory experts. Robert M. Califf, MD, and Jeremy Sugarman, MD, MPH, were editors of the special issue.
For more information:
In a forthcoming article in Healthcare, Dr. Eric Larson and colleagues present practical advice based on case studies from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory. Physician–scientists, health services researchers, and delivery system leaders provide insight from their experience launching a pragmatic clinical trial (PCT) as part of the Collaboratory.
The authors make 5 recommendations:
- Establish a partnership from the get-go
- Do a pilot project
- Take advantage of existing hospital and health system infrastructure
- Minimize the impact on clinical workflow
- Remember that even high-priority research questions must be balanced with the systems’ greatest priority: providing good healthcare to patients.
The authors note that researchers need to be flexible and prepared to adjust the study design to the workflow and culture of the system.
Reference: Larson E, Tachibana C, Thompson E, et al. Trials without tribulations: Minimizing the burden of pragmatic research on healthcare systems. Healthcare. 2015; in press. doi:10.1016/j.hjdsi.2015.07.005
Watch Dr. Larson’s Grand Rounds Presentation from June 2013: Trials, Not Tribulations: Minimizing the Burden of Research on Health Care Systems
In a commentary published this week in Modern Healthcare, Eric Larson, MD, MPH, and Karin Johnson, PhD, of Group Health Research Institute, argue that greater collaboration is needed between clinical researchers and healthcare system executives to address a “a gap between research approaches and delivery system needs.” Perspectives gathered through a survey and Institute of Medicine workshop with healthcare executives indicated that research is not conducted fast enough or designed in a way that facilitates translation of evidence into clinical practice. The NIH Collaboratory and National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet) are cited as examples of effective partnerships between researchers and healthcare leaders; these research programs are addressing high-priority clinical questions and generating actionable knowledge. According to Drs. Larson and Johnson, pragmatic clinical trials and big data offer opportunities to create a learning health system, but this will require combining the perspectives and expertise of researchers and stakeholders from healthcare delivery systems. Drs. Larson and Johnson are part of the NIH Collaboratory’s Health Care Systems Interactions Core, a working group that “aims to support and facilitate productive collaboration between researchers, clinicians, and health system leaders.”
The National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet) has recently made a draft protocol for its first randomized clinical trial available for stakeholder review. Researchers, clinicians, patients and the public are all invited to read the current draft of the study protocol and provide comments and feedback.
The ADAPTABLE Study (PDF), which will investigate whether lower- or higher-dose aspirin is better for preventing heart attack and stroke in patients at risk for heart disease, is PCORnet’s first randomized pragmatic clinical trial. Designed to leverage PCORnet’s Clinical Data Research Networks (CDRNs) and Patient-Powered Research Networks (PPRNs), the trial will serve as twofold purpose: answering a clinical question of direct importance for patients, families, and healthcare providers, and serving as a demonstration of PCORnet’s capabilities in conducting clinical research on a national scale.
Links to the proposed study protocol, a survey tool for capturing feedback, and other information about ADAPTABLE Study, including press releases, fact sheets, and infographics, are available at the link below:
ADAPTABLE: The Aspirin Study
Follow PCORnet on Twitter @PCORnetwork for updates on the ADAPTABLE #ClinicalTrial
In January of 2015, the NIH HCS Collaboratory’s Patient-Reported Outcomes (PRO) Core Group convened a 2-day workshop in Baltimore devoted to identifying barriers and possible solutions to the use of NIH-supported PRO tools in comparative-effectiveness research (CER).
Findings from the meeting, which include case study presentations and reflections from multiple stakeholders representing the research, clinical, and patient communities, were distilled into a summary document available from the NIH Collaboratory Knowledge Repository at the link below:
The workshop summary is also available on the Living Textbook’s “Tools for Research” section, under “Patient-Reported Outcomes White Paper.”
An explosion in the collection of personal data is fostering concerns about the extent to which health information is accessed—and about the privacy and confidentiality of this information. Two recent National Public Radio stories highlight a few of the burgeoning uses of these abundant data.
In the first, an insurer uses personal data to predict who will get sick so it can identify patients at highest risk for hospital admission, or readmission, and then provide them with personal health coaches. The coordinated care given to patients by the coaches (for example, arranging a visiting nurse or streamlining appointments) has been shown to improve hospitalization rates. The insurer says it follows federal health privacy guidelines for anonymity and uses the information to better serve its members.
The second story explains that results of online health searches aren’t always confidential, and data brokers are tracking information and selling it to interested parties. The author notes that data gathered on the Web are, for the most part, unregulated. Both stories raise questions about privacy and confidentiality of health information and how to best protect it.
Pragmatic clinical trials also seek to use personal health data to answer important questions on the risks, benefits, and burdens of therapeutic interventions. In a blog post in Health Affairs, Joe Selby, executive director of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), underscores the need for trust, support, and active engagement of patients when involving them in health data research, even with privacy protections in place. PCORI has launched the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet) as a means of harnessing large clinical data sets to study the comparative effectiveness of treatments, and a central tenet of the network is that patients, clinicians, and healthcare systems should be actively involved in the governance of the use of health information.
Read the full articles
From NPR: Insurer Uses Personal Data To Predict Who Will Get Sick
From NPR: Online Health Searches Aren't Always Confidential
From Health Affairs: Advancing the Use of Health Data in Research With PCORnet
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has approved the first pragmatic clinical trial to be performed through the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet)—the ADAPTABLE study (Aspirin Dosing: A Patient-centric Trial Assessing Benefits and Long-term Effectiveness).
Over the course of the trial, 20,000 study participants with cardiovascular disease will be randomly assigned to receive one of two commonly used doses of aspirin—a low dose of 81 mg per day versus a higher dose of 325 mg per day—in order to determine which provides the optimal balance between protecting patients with cardiovascular disease from heart attack and stroke, and minimizing bleeding events associated with aspirin therapy. The trial will also employ a number of innovative methods, including electronic health record (EHR)-based data collection and a patient-centered, web-based enrollment model in partnership with the Health eHeart Alliance Patient-Powered Research Network (PPRN).
The ADAPTABLE trial, which includes six of PCORnet’s Clinical Data Research Networks (CDRNs), will be led and coordinated through the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI).
Read more about the ADAPTABLE Aspirin Trial here:
Fact Sheet (PDF)
DCRI Coordinating Center Announcement
The National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet) Patient-Reported Outcomes (PRO) Task Force has released a new white paper that delineates definitions for data contributed by patients. They hope to facilitate the incorporation of information provided by patients across the networks and to maximize data sharing and interoperability by operationalizing the terms within PCORnet.
The following three terms were adopted to describe the patient-contributed data collected across PCORnet:
PATIENT-REPORTED OUTCOME (PRO): a report that comes directly from the patient about the status of a patient’s health condition without amendment or interpretation of the patient’s response by a clinician or anyone else.
PATIENT-CENTERED OUTCOMES: outcomes that matter to patients
PATIENT-GENERATED HEALTH DATA: health-related data (such as health history, symptoms, biometric data, treatment history, lifestyle choices, and other information) that are created, recorded, gathered, or inferred by or from patients or their designees (i.e., care partners or those who assist them) to help address a health concern. Patient-generated health data include patient-reported outcomes.
The white paper can be found under Patient-Reported Outcomes White Papers on the Tools for Research page on the living textbook, or accessed directly here (PDF).
The NIH Collaboratory Biostatistics/Study Design Core has released a new guidance document concerning the use of frailty models in the setting of cluster-randomized trials (CRTs). This guidance, the fifth in a series from the Core, outlines considerations affecting power calculations in frailty models, as well as issues raised by the use of logistic regression models for time-to-event versus dichotomous outcomes in CRTs .
The guidance document can be found under Biostatistical Guidance Documents on the Tools for Research page on the Living Textbook, or accessed directly here (PDF).